Solar Energy for Palestine

Posted 25 July 2015 by Urs Riggenbach.

After studying abroad and working in the solar industry in the US, Moutasem Hassan is ready to return to his conflict-ridden home country and promote solar energy for a more independent Palestine.

Moutasem is a Palestinian citizen. At age 17, he got a scholarship to attend the United World College, in India. There, among 200 students from 68 nations, Moutasem started to look for solutions that could make a difference in Palestine.

Moutasem continued his studies at the College of the Atlantic in the US and graduated as a Human Ecologist. After two years of work in the solar industry, Moutasem is ready to return home with his bold mission.

Ongoing conflict in Palestine and the Arab Spring in the surrounding countries have been a very challenging dilemma for all citizens including my family and me. Poverty and fear were the main two themes of my childhood, and are part of the Palestinian reality. I was for long time, until I left, in a broken system. I lived through the days where my father spent all his money for my brothers’ and sisters’ tuition, while the government could not pay their employees a dime.

Moutasem explains that Israel only allows few hours of electricity per day into the Gaza Strip. The high taxes the Israeli govt. puts on all imported goods constantly drive up the cost of living. Access to power and energy is a financial burden for every Palestinian citizen. These problems get even worse in refugee camps and rural areas.

The main fuel for cooking and baking is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that needs to be imported. Still one third of all bakeries run on wood that is slowly running out as desertification proceeds and the remaining 2% forest cover is dwindling [1] [2] [3].

It will not be an easy road to establish solar thermal energy in Palestine and my path will be filled with obstacles, but I am determined to drive this change so desperately needed by Palestine’s people.

Moutasem is motivated by the fact that solar energy not only creates jobs and reduces fossil fuel dependence, it also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions and could pose a way out of poverty. “I’m especially excited about this technology because it can be built locally, so it will not be limited by the harsh import duties imposed on us by Israel.”

As an early adopter of technology, Moutasem gets access to all construction plans and detail he needs to build his first machine in-country and demonstrate it to potential clients. This is Moutasem’s next step.




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